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Remember the Early Days of Gaming!

sknr_logo_smallAs a long time gamer that went from the early home consoles to the PC for my gaming needs, I can appreciate just how much things have changed since the days of the Atari 2600 and first Nintendo system.

While I still prefer the PC for the majority of my gaming, I do own and play on the consoles mainly for exclusives and a change of pace.  With that being said, I have not been a fan of the trend of micro-transactions and pay to play model that has become commonplace in many games. I appreciate the growing costs of game development, but if you are asking for $59.99 for a game, to me it is wrong to charge people for in game items and for the “privilege” of being able to play online and against other players.

I remember the early days of online PC gaming and the thrill of being able to play Doom, Duke Nukem 3D, and Warcraft against other players. All you needed in those pre and early internet days was a modem and the number of a person who had the game as well and was willing to play when you were. Aside from that, the only concerns you had were incoming calls and making sure the person you were playing was not a long distance call away.  I remember how things like updates and maps were often free as a thank you, and how if you wanted new content it was sold as an expansion pack which often contained a new campaign as well.

Naturally times change and the natural evolution was to go online and bring DLC to the masses digitally thus cutting out many of the retail locations to help maximize profits.  When the Playstation 3 and the Xbox 360 arrived, one of the most glaring issues to me, aside from the Red Ring of Death, was the fact that Microsoft required gamers to pay a fee to use their online service. Although the fee was small to me it was the principal especially since Sony did not require a fee to use their online service. Security and quality issues aside, it was a factor that irked me and when I was asked which console I wanted to do a review on by a manufacturer, I would opt for the PS 3 most often when a PC version was not an option.

With the launch of the Playstation 4, I was a bit upset to see that users did indeed need to purchase a Playstation Plus account to take advantage of the online content and features of the system.  I was happy that it still remained free for the PS3 but since the focus will be on the new console, I was less than thrilled by this new development.

Yes the cost is minimal as I was able to purchase a year at a reduced rate and it is a business expense, but again the issue of requiring payment to use a game fully did not sit well with me.  So far I can say that I have been very happy with the service despite my initial concerns and that is largely due to the free games that are offered each month. I had expected cast off titles that nobody would really care about or things that were several years old.

However, Bioshock Infinite, Outlast, and others have shown me that Sony is bringing top-quality games to users across all platforms both console and mobile for one low price. Although I had Bioshock Infinite for PC, it was nice to see that the game was offered. Outlast lists at $19.99 but is free for Playstation Plus users so that one title alone has covered nearly half of our annual fee for the service.

While some might say they would not have purchased the game had it not been free, I think most would agree that being able to select from a couple of games each month for their system is worth the $4.95 a month fee.  For me I like to say that for the price I am getting free content each month and unlimited online access and gaming which makes it much easier for me to accept than if I was paying the price simply for paying for online access.

I would like Sony to see about offering moves and shows as part of the service as giving us a free stream now and then would not be a bad idea but for now, I have tabled many of my criticisms about the service and look forward to seeing if Sony will continue to build upon it and what it offers.

Garth von Kallenbach  Skewed & Reviewed